National Certificate in Educational Achievement (NCEA)


Students will need to earn 80 credits and Literacy and Numeracy to be awarded an NCEA Level 1 qualification. Literacy and Numeracy can be met through a variety of courses and each course will have defined which standards contribute to Literacy and Numeracy. The Ministry of Education and the New Zealand Qualifications Authority have stated which standards meet Literacy and Numeracy requirements. Ten credits each in Literacy and Numeracy is the minimum required.

Students will be offered approximately 20-24 credits from each course although this will vary between subjects. In five subjects students could gain up to 120 credits and in six subjects they could gain up to 144 credits. Course specific information is given to students by teachers of each course. 

To gain a Level 2 NCEA, a student must achieve 80 credits, of which 60 must be at Level 2 or above with the remaining 20 from Level 1 or higher. Please note: A new requirement has now been added - Level 1 Literacy and Numeracy requirements must now be met to gain the Level 2 certificate.

To gain a Level 3 NCEA, a student must achieve 80 credits with a minimum of 60 credits at Level 3 or above. Level 1 Literacy and Numeracy requirements must also have been met.


To gain a Merit endorsement on her NCEA qualification a student must gain at least 50 credits at Merit level or higher. To gain an Excellence endorsement on her NCEA qualification a student must gain at least 50 credits at Excellence level.


Certificates can be endorsed to reflect high achievement in a number of standards from a particular course. Course endorsements will show that students have performed well in an individual course.

Students will gain an endorsement for a course if, in a single school year, they achieve:

  • 14 or more credits at Merit or Excellence at the lower level that supports the endorsement
  • At least 3 of these credits from externally assessed standards and 3 credits identified from internally assessed standards. The externally assessed requirement does not apply to Physical Education, and Level 3 Visual Arts.


University Entrance (UE) requirements:

Students will need all of the following to be awarded UE:

  • attain NCEA Level 3
  • achieve 14 credits at level 3 in each of three subjects from the list of approved subjects 

The list of approved subjects will consist of subjects derived from the New Zealand Curriculum with Achievement Standards at Level 3.

  • achieve UE numeracy - 10 credits at Level 1 and above from specific achievement standards, or three specific numeracy unit standards
  • achieve UE literacy - 10 credits (five in reading and five in writing) at Level 2 and above from specific standards.

Credits can be accumulated over more than one year.

University Restricted Course requirements:

For courses with a large number of applicants the entry criteria will be higher. Students will need to check either with the university concerned or with a careers' guidance counsellor for the entry criteria.

Credits are gained by meeting national standards. These credits can be gained from Achievement Standards (AS) and Unit Standards (US). Each subject will supply a Course Information Sheet detailing the AS and/or US offered in a course and the number of credits that each AS or US is worth.

Achievement Standards will be awarded as 'Not Achieved', 'Merit' or 'Excellence' level and Unit Standards are awarded as 'Achieved' or 'Not Achieved'. The level at which a standard will not affect the number of credits gained. If the standard is not met then the AS or US is not achieved and no credits will be gained.

Assessment for Achievement Standards will be either internal or external depending upon its registration. Assessment for Unit Standards will be internal. Further information is available on

The mode of assessment for internal AS and US will vary. It may be by way of written tests, research assignments, speaking tests, or practical tasks. Each course will state the style of assessment in its course outline.

NZQA (New Zealand Qualifications Authority) will administer examinations for all external Achievement Standards. These will take place at the end of the school year (in November).

NZQA will list credits gained for all AS and US on a student's Record of Achievement. When 80 credits have been obtained, (including the required number of Numeracy and Literacy credits) the student can be awarded NCEA at Level 1. The same will happen for Level 2 and 3.

NCEA Level 1

Minimum requirements - 10 Level 1 Literacy + 10 Level 1 Numeracy + 60 other Level 1 (or higher) credits = 80 credits in total

NCEA Level 1 with Merit (>50 Merit)

NCEA Level 1 with Excellence (> 50 Excellence)

Course Endorsements with Merit or Excellence (>14 Merit and/or Excellence, must include 3 internal, 3 external - exemption for PE and Visual Arts Credits to be gained all in one year)

NCEA Level 2

Course Recommendations for NCEA Level 2 apply

Entry into each course is subject to meeting academic recommendations - refer to individual courses for more details.

Minimum requirements - 60 Level 2 (or higher) credits + 20 credits from any level = 80 credits Must have Literacy and Numeracy

NCEA Level 2 with Merit (>50 Merit)

NCEA Level 2 with Excellence (>50 Excellence)

Course Endorsements (same criteria as for Level 1)

NCEA Level 3

Course Recommendations for NCEA Level 3 apply

Entry into each course is subject to meeting academic recommendations - refer to individual courses for more details.

Minimum requirements - 60 Level 3 credits + 20 credits from Level 2 or higher = 80 credits

NCEA Level 3 with Merit (>50 Merit)

NCEA Level 3 with Excellence (>50 Excellence)

Course Endorsements (same criteria as Level 1)

University Entrance

NCEA Level 3 and

10 credits Numeracy in Level 1 or higher

10 credits Literacy in Level 2 or higher being 5 credits writing 5 credits reading

14 credits in each of three approved subjects